Reading: 1 Corinthians 12: 1 – 31
Focus: 1 Corinthians 12, 18, 22 – 23
The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.
But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it.
In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen.
I dearly love my wife. I couldn’t be more thankful to God for blessing my life with her. However, God has made her different than me (in some ways; we’re similar in others). One of the areas where we differ is in how God has gifted us. Sherri is mostly extroverted, and she has a wonderful gift of hospitality; she can make someone feel comfortable by her mere presence. Me — not so much. I’ve always played the part of an extrovert because that was expected of me, but by nature I’m very introverted. In most social situations (especially those requiring small talk), I find myself struggling for something (anything, PLEASE) to say. By the end of the event, I’m exhausted – physically, mentally, and emotionally drained. I’ve always known that God has gifted me with a rational mind, and I thought that was pretty much it; I just kept “faking it” to fit in when required at social events. However, within the last five or so years, I’ve also discovered (much to my surprise) that God gifted me in a way I never would have expected. Unfortunately in my past, I allowed myself to take on baggage that wasn’t part of who I am, because I spent more time listening to what others said about me than what God says to me. As God has helped me to work through the baggage, I’ve learned that while I am introverted and don’t particularly like certain social situations, there are other situations where I thrive. In small group settings where everyone has a chance to get to know one another and small talk is replaced by deeper dialogue, I’ve discovered that I am quite comfortable. Even more than that, I’ve discovered that God has gifted me in a way that enables me to encourage those I’m interacting with, a gift I never would have dreamed that I had.
God revealed this gift to me through prayer. As I read His Word daily and prayed over the course of a few months asking God to show me where and how I fit into His plan and for opportunities to serve Him, more “chance” encounters came in front of me to offer encouragement and prayer for friends as well as people I barely knew. When I handled those encounters prayerfully, it seemed like God would give me the right words to say and the right way to pray. The word “encourage” would come up more and more through those conversations. Finally, I had a friend who has prayed with and for me quite a few times confirm to me that he felt God had given me the gift of encouragement to use in His service.
I don’t write this as some personal revelation (although it is pretty cool thinking back through that time). I write this as a way to encourage anyone reading this who just doesn’t know where he or she fits in. Every single one of us who is a believer in Christ has a role and a part to play in God’s plan. We have each been “wonderfully and fearfully made” (Psalm 139:14) by God with a purpose, with a mission, and with gifts and talents given to us by God to advance His kingdom. As today’s focus verse tells us, sometimes what we think of as our weakest and least important parts are actually some of the most important, because those can be what make us each unique and uniquely qualified to serve God in the purpose He has for us.
If you’re struggling to determine what part of Christ’s body you are – what gifts and talents God has given you, what mission and purpose He has for you — first of all, acknowledge that God wastes nothing. He doesn’t create garbage, and He doesn’t create anyone without a purpose. You are His child, and He loves you more than you can imagine. Secondly, commit to discovering what gifts and talents He has given you and what mission He has for you. Pray. Read your Bible (if you expect to hear from God, you have to be in His Word, otherwise how will you recognize His voice when He speaks to you?). When you feel Him nudging you, be willing to step out in faith, and ask others you trust (i.e. the Prayer Team) to pray with you. You have a vital role to play in the body of Christ; God wants you to be fully engaged and to fully use the gifts He’s given you on the adventure of serving Him.
Lord, thank You that You have made each of us to be unique and yet at the same time to fit together as the body of Christ, Your church. Please open my eyes; help me to see myself the way You see me, to look past the baggage I carry, and to see the gifts and talents You have given me. Please help me to use those gifts and talents to their fullest to serve You and help others find and follow You. Please encourage me and help me to trust You in stepping out in faith wherever You call me in service to You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.